My fellow SADC citizens!
I am addressing to you all following the worsening situation of the COVID 19 in our region.
Globally, we have witnessed a worrying situation as a result of the increase of new infections caused ultimately by a new strain of Corona virus with higher potential of transmissibility.
The COVID 19 pandemic remains a major challenge in almost all SADC Member States. Now, national daily statistics show a steep increase in the spread of the virus and in the number of deaths across the region which evidences that, the region is deep into the second wave of the pandemic.
In the first 2 weeks of January 2021, the total number of new confirmed COVID 19 cases surged to 346 010, accounting for 22% of the total number of cases registered since the beginning of the pandemic in the region.
There is a growing concern that infections are being driven in part by a new strain of Corona virus known as 501.V2 which has so far been reported in three SADC countries according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control.
In fact, more than 50% of all new daily infections of COVID-19 on African continent have been reported in the SADC region.
Under this scenario, our health systems are rapidly reaching the limit of their capacities; and the situation is expected to worsen in the short term.
Additionally, the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the lives of citizens is becoming widespread and devastating. Education, employment and economic activities have been severely disrupted, worsening poverty, with all underlying social consequences, inter alia the increase in crime and gender-based violence.
We commend Member States and all SADC Citizens for the countless sacrifices made and hardships endured since the beginning of the Covid-19. Yet, we wish to appeal to all of us to re-apply efforts to curb the high infection and mortality rates, as only if we stand together and collaborating, we will have resilience and capacity to overcome this pandemic.
This time round, it is imperative that we build on the knowledge and experience achieved in mitigating this pandemic and continue to adopt common and harmonised policies, guidelines, strategies and measures in response to the pandemic.
Fellow SADC Citizens,
Since, the beginning of the pandemic, the Southern Africa Development Community under the leadership of Heads of States and Governments has taken assertive measures and supported Member States initiatives and collective and coordinated efforts in the fight against COVID-19, with some degree of success.
At this delicate time, it is urgent that we continue to build on these important strategic alliances and take additional measures that will assist us in addressing the growing challenges posed by the second wave of the pandemic in our region, and other waves that may emerge.
On a positive note, over the last few months a number of COVID-19 vaccine candidates have received regulatory approvals in some countries as well the prequalification by the WHO.
In this regard, we recommend the SADC Committee of Ministers of Health to establish a strong regional collaborative strategy which pools resources together to urgently acquire the vaccine for distribution to our citizens setting priorities in accordance with the level of risk.
Enhance vaccine research capabilities and develop regional manufacturing capacity for vaccines in the future.
Following up surging of COVID-19 cases, we must intensify cooperation and collaboration between Member States, through increased data sharing, policy harmonisation and standardisation, pooled procurement of essential medical and non-medical equipment to address the pandemic in a more effective way.
We must also reinforce our health systems so that they remain ready to deliver other life-saving services and better withstand future pandemics.
In addition to health measures, we should continue to embark on common regional strategies, harmonised and synchronised initiatives; including electronic platforms to monitor the safe cross border movement of people, vehicle and goods, as well as implementing National action plans that address social consequences.
Let me conclude by calling upon all fellow citizens of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to redouble their collective and individual commitment, as only by working together we will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic — the major challenge of our lifetime.
A luta continua!
Maputo, 29th January 2021